The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. –Proverbs 9:10
This verse is a conundrum to many for the simple paradox that it features a thing everyone wants with a thing no one does. We long for deeper wisdom with which to make decisions, handle our affairs, lead our families, but no one clamors for fear—aside from perhaps October 31st, at least.
So what does it mean to fear God? Does it mean we should cower around, fearful that God could crush us at any moment?
Not quite. But also not as far from truth as one might think.
I think proper fear, in this context, is simply in knowing that the only thing keeping you from catastrophe is not your airbag or insurance policy or local hospital—it is God. He gives us air to breathe; our food, our drink, everything, is from Him.
And I think this is where the fear and wisdom meet—in assessing that God is in control and all things are guided by His hand, what place is there for pride? Why would I possibly pat myself on the back for anything? My gifts, my provision, my family, my very life, are all given by God. Everything is His—including me.
And in that light, dare I make decisions without seeking Him first? Would it be wise to plot out my life with or without the all-powerful, universe creating, shaping, and guiding entity on board? Why in the world would I ever attempt a thing contrary to His will?
To fear the Lord, simply put, is to place the appropriate reverence and position for God in our lives, and live out every decision in light of His place and our own. He is to lead, to guide, to provide, to protect, and to approve. I am to submit in all things to His perfect and pleasing will. Realizing the former is to fear the Lord, and it gives way to the latter: wisdom.
So today, let us fear the Lord—and all that that means—and in that simple resolution, we begin in wisdom.